By Adegbenro Adebanjo
These are certainly troubling times in Nigeria. Almost all citizens are living on edge and in fear of attacks by the so called bandits and gunmen. Travelling to and from different parts of the country has become a hazardous venture. In the North, especially between Abuja and Kaduna, commuting by whatever means has become more perilous than passing through the lake of fire and brimstone. Danger looms at every point. Gunmen have taken over the highways and the railway is no longer safe while air transportation is also within their range. The fear of being molested, abducted or killed by rampaging gunmen and bandits has made the worry over the parlous state of the economy , epileptic power supply and other self-inflicted acts of bad governance pale into insignificance. Life is becoming nastier, more brutish and shorter as the spate of deadly attacks with mounting casualties across the country becomes almost a daily occurrence.
And let’s call a spade a spade. The issue is no longer about banditry and sporadic attacks by known and unknown gun men. The country is now in the vice grip of pure Terrorism. Those who attacked the Abuja- Kaduna Train in the evening of Monday March 28 were neither Gunmen nor bandits. They are TERRORISTS. The operation had all the hallmarks of high level Terrorists Attack. They came well-armed, planted explosives on the rail track and detonated the bombs as the train approached to demobilize it. They then invaded the carriages in Terrorists style, shot as many as they could and captured others. The authorities put the number of those who fell to the terrorist bullets at 8 with some 24 wounded. And of course several other passengers taken away by those who carried out the dastardly act are yet to be fully accounted for or rescued.
Nigeria is losing precious human capital to terrorists. One of those killed in the Kaduna attack is a young Nigerian, Doctor Chinelo Nwando, who worked at St. Gerald hospital in Kaduna. She sent out a tweet during the attack saying she had been shot by the Terrorists. She never made it out of the train alive. The Trade Union Congress has also confirmed that Comrade (Barr.) Musa Lawal Ozigi, mni, its Secretary General and Comrade Akin Akinsola, TUC Chairman, Kwara State were murdered by the Terrorists. Many families are also still mourning the sudden death of their loved ones who were murdered in cold blood by the terrorists. Other families are yet to know the fate of their loved ones who were abducted. It is troubling that Kaduna, the headquarters of the country’s military might and location of elite military Institutions, has become easy pick for Terrorists, bandits and gunmen of different hues and dark agendas.
Even before the audacious Terrorists Attack on the Abuja- Kaduna Train leading to the death of some passengers and abduction of many others, it was obvious to all that there was deepening insecurity in the land .The Government also seemed to be playing catch-up and its response tentative and reactive. A troubling statistics making the rounds indicate that in the last 90 days 1545 People have been murdered in cold blood in the epicenter of Terrorists Attack in Niger, Kaduna, Borno, Sokoto and Zamfara States. Swathes of territories are now under the full control of Terrorists and various bandits who lord it over the people. They kill, maim and hold hostage and have become rulers of territories within the polity. They are challenging the Government power of coercion and daily decimating the territorial integrity of the country.
Worse still is the internecine pogrom going on unabated in some parts of Southern Kaduna. It has been likened to a deliberate massacre with an underlying genocidal agenda . And this is more so when a particular ethnic group is being targeted for elimination and forced to flee from their ancestral land. This internecine war of sorts is yet to be decisively tackled by government.
The country is bleeding and scores are being killed by Terrorists and bandits. The consequences of the unabated TERRORISM is very glaring .The economy is comatose. More companies and small businesses are folding up. The number of internally displaced people has become so huge that the government and other agencies seem overwhelmed. Some hapless citizens have become refugees in neighbouring countries as activities of terrorists and bandits make it impossible for them to dwell within the territory of Nigeria.
The government is taking too long to deliver on so many promises and the patience of the people is wearing thin. It is time for decisive action to reverse the ugly trend of insecurity. The government should halt the squandering of its goodwill by making positive change happen by securing the homeland from invaders. Nigerians are tired of platitudes of commiserations by government top functionaries and endless promises by government and security agencies anytime the terrorists strike. Promises of government to root out bandits and their sponsors now sound so hollow and unbelievable.
The concatenation of cacophonous responses to the myriads of security threats and brazen acts of TERRORISM shows a Government in quandary. Excuses will not and cannot assuage the disappointment of the populace. According to Chinua Achebe in Things Fall Apart ,”when handshakes extend to the elbow it has become wrestling.” The multiple attacks by Terrorists in Kaduna is a clear declaration of war . The Federal Government should bare its fangs and should stop using kid gloves against those killing innocent citizens.
It is time to reassess strategy and come up with a new plan to tackle terrorism and banditry. And the government does not need to go to Television and radio stations and pages of newspapers to announce strategies and its readiness to combat terrorism. The citizens are not blind and deaf. It will become apparent that the government through its military apparatus is winning the war when the spate of terrorists attack reduce and the terrorists are eventually decimated. The citizens are not demanding for too much. They want more action and less talk from government and the military. They want to live and work in a secure environment.
It is also time to leverage on digital Technology and other security apparatus to fight the terrorists who now visit death, destruction, sorrow, tears and blood on innocent people with reckless abandon and almost relative ease. The country needs preventive security measures that stop terrorists before they strike not reactive strategy .
A government that fails in ensuring the security of lives and property and protecting the territorial integrity of the polity , its overarching responsibility , will be judged harshly by posterity . Muhammadu Buhari as the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces can avoid this harsh judgement of history . He should roll out the full arsenal of war against the terrorists and their sponsors ask for help from the international community and decapitate the evil monster of terrorism and insecurity bedeviling the country now. Time is however running out!
Adebanjo sent this piece via email@example.com